Revealing Raucous Restaurants
You sounded off. We listened.
Starting April 20, restaurant reviews in the Magazine will feature noise ratings along with the other information -- hours, prices, Web sites, etc. -- already included with the weekly dining column.
The ratings will be determined using a combination of a sound-level meter reading and the reviewer's personal reaction to the acoustics over multiple visits. Here's the breakdown:
Quiet (under 60 decibels)
Conversation is easy (60-70 decibels)
Must speak with raised voice (71-80 decibels)
Extremely loud (over 80 decibels)
For the sake of comparison, 50 decibels is equivalent to the sound of a moderate rain shower; 60 decibels represents normal conversation; 70 decibels is akin to the noise made by a vacuum cleaner; and noise levels higher than 80 decibels (conjure up city traffic) are potentially hazardous if listened to for a sustained period.
The brain registers every 10-decibel increase as a doubling of loudness. Thus, a restaurant that measures 80 decibels sounds twice as noisy as a place that measures 70 decibels.
-- Tom Sietsema